[Important update: students prevail over Con dirty tricks!]
This is jaw-droppingly outrageous. Have we become a banana republic overnight?
Today, while in the middle of voting, there was a big disruption at the polling station. As I was sealing my envelope to place into the ballot box, a guy came up making a huge scene stating that this polling station was illegal and tried to grab for the ballot box.
…[I]t was confirmed that the guy claiming that the polling station was illegal was Michael Sona who is in fact a part of the Guelph Campus Conservatives. The other individual was wearing a blue zip up jacket/sweater, and I do not know his name.
Trying to steal a ballot box? These Harper Youth thugs ought to have been arrested immediately. What’s next—baseball bats on E-day?
[H/t James Curran]
UPDATE: This was no accident. Michael Sona, the fellow who reached for the ballot box, turns out to be local CPC candidate Marty Burke’s communications director. The CPC is now trying to have the ballots invalidated, knowing that students are not generally Conservative voters.
Perhaps, as reader Sassy suggests, we should be calling for foreign observers at this point. Next: hanging chads?
[H/t readers James Bow and James Curran]
UPPERDATE: CPC letter to a representative of the Chief Electoral Officer. Curiouser and curiouser. The letter claims that the representative, a Pierre Boutet, had stated on the telephone that no advance poll* had been agreed to by Elections Canada—which would come as a surprise, I think, to the Elections Canada officials already involved in the process and interviewed by the press:
Elections Canada media advisor James Hale said this was the third election during which the University of Guelph held a special ballot on campus. And this is the first time it’s ever been challenged, Hale said.
“Part of our mandate is making the vote as accessible as possible. So, we look at outreach programs,” Hale said.
Hale said special ballot polling stations are often held for groups of people who consistently display less-than-average voter turnouts, such as students, First Nations, seniors and the disabled.
“It’s never been challenged, not to my knowledge,” Hale said.
[A] steady queue of students lined up to vote at a special ballot set up in University Centre by Elections Canada. The strong turnout came in the thick of final exam time. Their ballots will be counted on election day May 2, Anne Budra, returning officer for Elections Canada said.
Budra said the special ballot was exceptionally well attended. It was set up, she explained, because many U of G students won’t be in Guelph for advanced polls on April 22, 23 and 25, or on election day. Students registered to vote on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
A friend working for Elections Canada this election notes that election materials are strictly controlled. A key question here is, therefore: if the special poll was not authorized by Elections Canada, as the Cons are claiming, where did the ballots, ballot boxes and other election material come from?
* CORRIGENDUM: As reader John correctly notes, this was not an advance poll, but a place where special ballots could be marked under the supervision of a DRO and placed in a ballot box to be opened May 2. All perfectly legal (see my next post).